Skip to main content

Father of Assam's floating boats advises Gujarat activists not to accept govt interference in day-to-day work

Sanjoy Hazarika interacting with NGOs
By Our Representative
Sanjoy Hazarika, brain behind “floating clinics” of Assam, has advised Gujarat-based non-government organizations (NGOs) not to accept any government interference while working for the welfare of the people. Answering a flurry of questions from top Gujarat NGO representatives on “success” of his experiment and relations with Assam government, Hazarika, who currently runs as many as 16 boat clinics in Brahmaputra river in a dozen districts in order to reach farthest of the areas, said, “When the state health minister offered support, my condition was, we would accept government funds only one condition: No interference in our work.”
Saying that this was the crux of his success, which began about a decade ago in one district and one boat with the aim of fighting Assam’s highest maternal mortality rate (MMR) in India, 481 deaths per 1 lakh live births, Hazarika said, on his part, while signing an agreement, he “offered complete transparency, but made it clear that would withdraw in case government officials interfered.” The issue cropped up when Pankti Jog of Agariya Heet Rakshak Manch (AHRM) said government’s mobile clinics in the Little Rann of Kutch, where saltpan workers work in remote and harsh conditions, had “collapsed”.
“The state government now says that it seems it is unable to go ahead with mobile medical clinics, as it cannot get doctors’ support. It has offered AHRM to take up the work of running mobile clinics”, Jog said, wondering what was the solution, and whether the organization which she represents should go ahead. “When I met the Assam chief minister with my experiment, he said it was a good experiment and I should go ahead with it”, Hazarika said, adding, following out experiment with just one boat, the district magistrate, Dibrugadh, showed interest, and then the health minister offered support.”
Currently part of the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM), the top Assam activist said, “A major reasons why doctors remain with floating clinics is, we have managed to take interns as part of the team. The interns who join us are offered Rs 5,000 more than the stipend in government hospitals. Then, those who join us get extra marks for their work with us. Although doctors are young, their presence has been a great help to about 20 lakh people living in scattered islands in Brahmaputra river, which at places is 18 kilometres wide.”
Already, Hazarika said, offers have come from at least three other states to go ahead with experiments on similar lines – Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Chhattisgarh. “But unless local activists get involved and go ahead, and government agrees to work without seeking to interfere in day-to-day work, this will not go ahead”, Hazarika insisted. While calling his experiment as “public-private partnership”, he said, “As we are part of NRHM, we do not charge anything from the patients, including for delivery. Our health clinics have helped bring down MMR in Assam to 350, the highest fall anywhere in India.”
During the interaction, Hazarika showed a film on the floating clinic, produced jointly with the Centre for North East Studies and Policy Research (C-NES). It shows how the major innovative health campaign reached some of the most marginalized and poorest communities in India who live on hundreds of islands, called saporis, inaccessible and isolated, unknown and unheard.
A statement issued on the occasion by Benoy Acharya of Unnati, which organized the interaction, said, “There are no roads here but today, but boat clinics, conceived and developed by the Centre for North East Studies and Policy Research, and manned by doctors, nurses, lab technicians and pharmacists as well as crew, organizers and community workers reach more than a million people, pulling them out of a deadly cycle of maternal and infant mortality, conditions which contrast dramatically with the overwhelming beauty of the place.
The statement said, “In partnership with the National Rural Health Mission of Assam, in tough terrain, rough weather and choppy waters, the teams struggle to bring communities from the margins of despair to the embrace of hope.C-NES is supported by the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM), to implement a project providing preventive and promotiove health services in the islands through specially designed boats.”
Hazarika is Saifuddin Kitchelew Chair and is the Director of Centre for North East Studies, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi and managing trustee of C-NES a non-profit established in 2000 and is an eminent writer, journalist and an expert on the region. He is Member of the Central Council of Health & Family Welfare, under the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare nominated by the Government of India. He has been a member of various academic organizations and official committees, including the Justice Jeevan Reddy Committee to Review AFSPA, the Society of Indian Institute of Advanced Studies, Shimla, and the North East India Studies Programme, Jawaharlal Nehru University.

Comments

Anonymous said…
Very Good work done by him... Commendable .... Hats off to him.

TRENDING

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Union budget 'mum' on relief to marginalised communities facing climate change impact

Counterview Desk  ActionAid, an international advocacy group which claims to work for a world without poverty, patriarchy and injustice, has wondered if the Union budget 2023-24, which is being acclaimed for providing succour to the middle classes, has anything to offer to the India's poor. In a statement, it said, while the budget may have "prioritised inclusive development", the financial outlay for ensuring it "does not show the zeal as hoped." Stating that the Finance Minister said Rs 35,000 crore revenue would have to be "forgone" due to a reduction in personal income taxes, "fiscal prudence is not enough to expand public employment, social security, welfare, education and health expenditures considerably." "The need of the hour is to raise revenues through the reduction of revenues forgone and innovative mechanisms such as wealth tax on super accumulation of wealth", it added. Text: The Union Budget 2023 has given significant

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam* RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

How lead petitioner was rendered homeless when GM mustard matter came up in SC

By Rosamma Thomas*  On January 5, 2023, the Supreme Court stayed a December 20, 2022 direction of the Uttarakhand High Court to the Indian Railways and the district administration of Haldwani to use paramilitary forces to evict thousands of poor families occupying land that belonged to the railways.  Justice AS Oka remarked that it was not right to order the bringing in of paramilitary forces. The SC held that even those who had no rights, but were living there for years, needed to be rehabilitated. On December 21, 2022, just as she was getting ready to celebrate Christmas, researcher Aruna Rodrigues was abruptly evicted from her home in Mhow Cantonment, Madhya Pradesh – no eviction notice was served, and nearly 30 Indian Army soldiers bearing arms were part of the eviction process. What is noteworthy in this case is that the records establishing possession of the house date back to 1892 – the title deed with the name of Dr VP Cardoza, Rodrigues’ great grandfather, is dated November 14

Why no information with Assam state agency about female rhino poaching for a year?

By Nava Thakuria   According to official claims, incidents of poaching related to rhinoceros in various forest reserves of Assam in northeast India have decreased drastically. Brutal laws against the poachers, strengthening of ground staff inside the protected forest areas and increasing public awareness in the fringe localities of national parks and wildlife sanctuaries across the State are the reasons cited for positively impacting the mission to save the one-horned rhinos. Officials records suggest, only two rhinos were poached in Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve since 1 January 2021 till date. The last incident took place probably in the last week of December 2021, as a decomposed carcass of a fully-grown (around 30 years old) female rhino was recovered inside the world-famous forest reserve next month. As the precious horn was missing, for which the gigantic animal was apparently hunted down, it could not be a natural death. Ironically, however, it was not confirmed when

Civil rights leaders allege corporate loot of resources, suppression of democratic rights

By Our Representative  Civil rights activists have alleged, quoting top intelligence officers as also multiple international forensic reports, that recent developments with regard to the Bhima Koregaon and the Citizenship Amendment Act-National Register of Citizens (CAA-NRC) cases suggest, there was "no connection between the Elgaar Parishad event and the Bhima Koregaon violence." Activists of the Campaign Against State Repression (CASR) told a media event at the HKS Surjeet Bhawan, New Delhi, that, despite this, several political prisoners continue to be behind bars on being accused under the anti-terror the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. Addressed by family members of the political prisoners, academics, as well as social activists, it was highlighted how cases were sought to be fabricated against progressive individuals, democratic activists and intellectuals, who spoke out against "corporate loot of Indian resources, suppression of basic democratic

Kerala natural rubber producers 'squeezed', attend to their plight: Govt of India told

By Rosamma Thomas   Babu Joseph, general secretary of the National Federation of Rubber Producers Societies (NFRPS) at a recent discussion at Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam, explained that it is high time the Union government paid greater heed to the troubles plaguing the rubber production sector in India – rubber is a strategic product, important for the military establishment and for industry, since natural rubber is still used in the manufacture of tyres for large vehicles and aeroplanes. Synthetic rubber is now quite widespread, but styrene, which is used in making synthetic rubber and plastics, and also butadiene, another major constituent of synthetic rubber, are both hazardous. Prolonged exposure to these even in recycled rubber can cause neurological damage. Kerala produces the bulk of India’s natural rubber. In 2019-20, Kerala’s share in the national production of rubber was over 74%. Over 20% of the gross cropped area in the state is under rubber cultivation, with total

Lack of welfare schemes, BSF curbs force West Bengal farmers to migrate far away

Counteview Desk  In a representation to the National Human Rights Commission chairperson, a senior West Bengal based activist has complained that villagers living near the border with Bangladesh are forced to migrate to as far away as Mumbai and Kerala because of lack of government sensitivity towards their welfare in original villages. Giving specific instances, Kirity Roy, secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM), said, if the Border Security Force (BSF) had not put any restriction on agricultural activities, and if villages had properly implemented welfare schemes, these people would never migrate to other States. Text: I want to attract your immediate attention to the inhumane condition of the migrated workers of Gobra village, Swarupnagar Block in North 24 Parganas district of West Bengal to seek your urgent intervention to protect the rights of these people. Gobra is a village situated near the Indo-Bangladesh Border where the border fencing is about 500 meters i

Bangladesh 'rights violations': US softens stance, fears increased clout of China, India

By Tilottama Rani Charulata*  In December 2021, in addition to the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), the United States imposed sanctions on seven former and current officers of the force, alleging serious human rights violations. Benazir Ahmed and former RAB-7 commander Miftah Uddin Ahmed were banned from entering the US. RAB as an institution was also canceled the support it was getting from the US and its allies. At the same time, those under the ban have been notified of confiscation of assets held abroad. The anti-crime and anti-terrorism unit of the Bangladesh Police, RAB is the elite force consisting of members of the Bangladesh Army, Bangladesh Police, Bangladesh Navy, Bangladesh Air Force, Border Guard Bangladesh, Bangladesh Civil Service and Bangladesh Ansar, and has been criticized by rights groups for its use of extrajudicial killings and is accused of forced disappearances. The government of Bangladesh has been insisting about lifting the ban on RAB, but the US had till recen